About three weeks after Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Protective Edge and invaded Palestine, Brooklyn-based street art duo Icy and Sot painted a pro-Gaza mural on a wall provided by the Bushwick Collective. Entitled “Rocket vs Rock,” the image shows a giant-like Palestinian freedom fighter — not outfitted in Hamas colors — emerging out of an explosion in Gaza City with a rock in his hand. Unlike many of their peers, the Iranian-born brothers aren’t afraid to wade into a conflict and take a stance.
A few months back, Icy & Sot collaborated on a Gulliver’s Travels-themed mural with fellow artist Sonni. The art for that showed miniature characters tying down a soldier of unknown origin. Within an hour of them finishing, the landlord buffed the piece without offering a plausible explanation. So, as soon as they found a new spot a week or so later, they remixed the entire concept: this time they had the buff man being tied down.
Comparatively speaking, the work their putting out for public consumption represents some of the more polemical street art to emerge in New York City as of late. Because for the most part, street artists working in the U.S. — with the exception of Poster Boy and a handful of others — are frighteningly apolitical.
Ironically, street art seems to be more interested in making things pretty than it does courting controversy, as evidenced by the lack of work addressing international or local current events.
Where are the all the wheat-pasted posters and stenciled boards commenting on Russia’s meddling in the Ukraine or the NYPD’s continuing pattern of racism or the myriad of other social issues erupting all over the globe? Not on the street.
(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)